Robert Thomas

Rags to Riches

After working for more than 12 years in multiple departments of the Smoothie King corporate office, Rose Kuhnau made her franchising debut in 2000, purchasing her first Smoothie King unit in New Orleans.

Today, Kuhnau owns four units in the Big Easy’s metropolitan area, helping to grow a brand that was started by her father. She was recently named one of the “Most Improved Franchisees” after transforming one unit and increasing sales by $250,000 in its first year.

Kuhnau offers advice on how to transform a down-on-its-luck unit into one of the system’s highest performers.

It Takes Two in Franchising

For more than 33 years, franchisees Ken Gray and Larry Erdman have been successful business partners in the quick-serve industry. Having grown up together and attended the same high school and college, Gray and Erdman became master franchisees with Subway in 1979, a venture that spanned more than 25 years. The duo has since seen lasting success with Philly’s Best and continues to maintain an effective partnership in a constantly changing market.

Gray and Erdman explain how basic communication and idea sharing can create a smooth franchise relationship and successful business.

New Kid on the Block

Robert Barton isn’t afraid to let a new product stand in the way of his success. The Connecticut-based franchisee was one of the first to the better-burger category, having opened four Five Guys units between 2005 and 2010. When he and his business partner sold in 2010, they had three of the top 15 Five Guys units.

Barton had seen other better-burger concepts popping up in his surrounding area, and, ready for a fresh start, left the category. He joined the Noodles & Company team and decided to set up shop in Hartford, a new market for that brand.

The Best Way to Assemble Your Crew

Having started as a crewmember at the age of 16, Vicki Marshall has nearly 35 years of experience with Little Caesars. The first female franchisee for the brand, Marshall opened her first unit at age 22, and now owns 23 stores across Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio.

Marshall’s experience with the brand has given her extensive knowledge of how franchisees should assess potential employees, hire the strongest candidates, and encourage them throughout their employment.

Don’t Let Weather Get You Down

Eric Wright signed on with Kona Ice, a shaved-ice concept, in 2009. His Kansas City–based business is mostly mobile and outdoor-oriented, consisting of food trucks, carts, and kiosks, and has become increasingly profitable despite sometimes less-than-ideal weather conditions.

Wright has focused on developing new stations that can go where his food trucks cannot, and he’s established connections with local schools and parks that ensure his warm-weather-based product is available year-round.

Turn Sustainability into Profitability

Christi Hogin and her business partners Michael Jenkins and Chris Khaleghian opened their first Tossed unit in the heart of Los Angeles’ Financial District in March. Hogin and Jenkins, both lawyers, and Khaleghian, a former Johnny Rockets and Subway franchisee, built several sustainable elements into the salad store that not only reduce the carbon footprint of the unit, but also attract eco-conscious consumers.

Hogin shares her tips on “going green” and how this sustainable enterprise has developed both the brand and profitability.

The Easiest Way to Boost Profits

William Bruce says franchisees can save money in everything they do. And throughout his career, Bruce has helped several quick-serve brands, including El Pollo Loco, Arby’s, and Paradise Bakery, do exactly that.

Bringing American Brands to the Middle East

Mohammad Al Madani is a worldly man. After graduating from the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering, Madani went home to Dubai and launched an engineering consultancy firm, Apex International Engineering Consulting. Since then, Madani has become a prominent businessman in Dubai by building an impressive franchise portfolio that holds more than 10 companies, including Levi’s, Hang Ten, Dockers, and Charley’s Grilled Subs.